Tag Archive: improvised music

4th Stream Records, ERG 2013

INTERVALS: Michael Moss Billy Stein Duo

Creative restructuring of our planet appeals to my fellow musicians and me more than anything I can think of. Instead of putting the arts last, the arts should come first. Our country is the most creative country on earth and we have been going down the wrong path for years. It is time we restore arts programs, build new ones, buy art materials, musical instruments, pay arts educators well, and generally take advantage of the American gusto that has built up business and Free Play cover art so that the arts become a priority. I want to return to the days when Louis Armstrong was a musical emissary to Russia, when the Dance Touring Program brought dance to small colleges throughout the US and supported them on State Department Tours. I advocate doing the same for music and dance now and it is the major reason I am applying to American Music Abroad.


I wrote a doctoral dissertation on Intuition and Creativity so I have studied creativity scientifically. Creative forces are constructive, bring people together and solve all kinds of problems. Creativity takes on cultural forms, of course, and yet there is a universality which is expressed in the folk tradition. I see this tradition as part of World Music, World Beat, and folk music. Jazz is a form of urban folk music. Beginning in the ‘70s I began searching out and playing with musicians from around the world to learn from them and to use scales and meter that catch my ear. Now I want to reestablish cultural ties that have become frayed and politicized, bring creative people to the fore, give them credit, and put them in charge of things to establish unity and purpose in the arts and to make things peaceful and harmonic.



My wife, Judy, and I were having dinner with our friends Billy and his wife Daniella tonight and over a wonderful steamed whole fish Billy asked me to explain to Daniella what I was trying to say when I used the rainbow metaphor which I published in the last two posts. Rainbows, expanding on my understanding, do not and do exist at the same time. They are not three dimensional, you cannot touch one, and are not concrete, plus no rainbow is the same for you as it is for me, I said. Water droplets prismatically reflect back to the viewer photons of varying wavelengths so we see ROYGBIV in one order, and VIBGYOR in the second order of rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). The sun must be directly behind us and the rainbow appears directly in front of us; therefore my head being in a different place from yours, we cannot see the same rainbow, even though we can share it, making believe we are seeing the same one.

I went on to say the metaphor hit me when I was reading The Sun’s Heartbeat (Bob Berman, Little, Brown, 2011) and Berman described rainbows. The rainbow exists in spacetime, yet photons exist in quantum reality. We are connected on the quantum level in more than one way, something I find pleasing and satisfying (see earlier posts in M2-Theory.com). But, while I may be in the same light cone you are in and we converse within that context, or continuum, we cannot be experiencing things in the same way. I think we carry around our own frame, look at things from a slightly different place, in a different spacetime from each other—everything being relative. That I can talk to you depends more than upon sound waves and syntactical structures within our forebrains, Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area. My heretical and unproven hypothesis suggests quantum entanglement accounts for some of our ability to understand one another—again something I develop more fully elsewhere (MIND AND MATTER, MIND AND LOGIC, MIND AND ACAUSAL MEANINGFUL “COINCIDENCE”: IS MIND A QUANTUM PERCEPTION OF A BRAIN SITUATED IN SPACETIME?).

I was starting to reach a wall so I thought it might help if I brought in another wackadoodle idea of mine, that quantum superposition helps artists make artistic decisions faster than thought. Given that we share a light cone—an area of spacetime that is defined as the distance between two objects that light can travel within, and are entangled—an indefinable distance in which subatomic particles that are entangled interact instantly, whether within or without the light cone, and given the concept of quantum superposition in which multiple possible events may occur but have not, e.g., Schrödinger’s cat, I can show how I as a musician can play the next note using a decision process that moves faster than thought. This counts as a big idea.

Any artist faces choices. Poets must choose the next word, artists the next brush stroke, sculptors the next chisel point, musicians the next note, composers the next notes, dancers the next move, and so forth. Not done in a vacuum, preceding notes—for the musician, to stay within a medium with which I am most comfortable but which translates into other mediums and art forms—do not causally predict notes that follow. Yes, there are parameters; there is a structure of a tune, a history of how notes have been used within tonal structures, a history of what other musicians played on those tunes, and even histories of what the musicians you are playing with now have done with you. At any point while improvising, I get to play a range of notes. Think of all of them in potentia, potential notes that are in a state of quantum superposition. The notes up till now allow more than one note of differential duration and power to be played, or as I prefer to think, for the wave to collapse. Collapsing waves are mathematical metaphors which are useful and descriptive. If the music is a wave, then the wave collapses on further notes by all the musicians in the context of where the wave comes from, its propulsivity, direction, depth and energy.

I choose a note. The wave collapses. An entire universe comes into being. An infinity of universes opens up of notes in superposition. It is as if the notes just happen. I cannot think that fast. If I stop to think I become paralyzed—it just has to happen. You’ve got to learn to let it go. Faster than thought, it is.

A brief example may be found in my Youtube video on an earlier post in this blog (Stein/Moss “Riverside After Dark”).

Daniella got it. Billy caught it. Judy was it. That is what it is like when we are in the zone. The highest levels of creativity occur in that zone of faster than thought, superluminal, entangled connectivity. We are individuals connected in, entangled in an elliptically called creative process.

For myself I feel like I am surfing a wave. The wave is complex and alive—can I shape my way through it by becoming the wave and simultaneously finding my individual arc through it, around it, till I come back to shore (the shores of consciousness)? That would be living the quantum life.

Billy Stein on guitar and I on Bb clarinet performed Billy’s piece, “Riverside After Dark” at the Westbeth MusicWorks First Fridays Concert Series on August 3, 2012.

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